Civic Association Gets Glimpse at Feedback From South End Collapsible Trash-Bin Pilot

In anticipation of the launch of a pilot program to bring collapsible trash bins to Beacon Hill, a participant from the South End discussed the perceived success so far of this city-led initiative during a special meeting of the Beacon Hill Civic Association Streets and Sidewalks Committee on Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 74 Joy St.

David Stone, president of Blackstone/Franklin Neighborhood Association, said the eight-week program kicked off Aug. 1 on one block of East Brookline Street between Harrison and Albany streets in the vicinity of the Boston Medical Center, with trash collection scheduled for Tuesdays and Fridays. Around 40 brick rowhouses on the block typically contain three units each and are occupied by an even mix of homeowners and renters, he said, and 23 households in 16 buildings who were notified of the pilot via a leaflet campaign are now voluntarily taking part in it.

“They were a self-selected group who probably do a good job with their trash already,” he said.

Stone detailed findings from a recent survey of 12 respondents indicating that 10 believed the program is helping to reduce trash while two said it seemingly had no or little effect in that regard.

Of the two trash bin options provided by the city – red and green – participants overwhelmingly preferred the sturdier, green ones, which were equipped with buckles to make them easier to collapse, although they found the red ones were easier to close.

Respondents were split on storing the bins in their lobby or hall, or instead under the exterior stairs.

Negative feedback from the survey included three responses from participants who said passersby had put un-bagged trash in their bins while Stone said his bin had already been stolen twice from outside his building. (Stone still applauded the pilot as a positive and effective initiative, however.)

After the eight-week trial ends on Oct. 1, the city could opt to let the pilot lapse or extend it, and if the pilot is extended, Stone hopes participation will extend to other South End streets. “We’re really persuaded that [the pilot] can and will work really well if it were adopted widely,” he added.

Still, Stone anticipates one difficulty will be keeping less-committed participants engaged and committed to the program.

“We’re not going to radically change the equation until it reaches some level of critical mass,” Stone said. “Attracting and retaining by people who are only sort of interested…is going to be really important, if you’re going to maintain membership over time and scale it up.”             While the pilot was set to launch on Beacon Hill on Monday, Sept. 23, Rajan Nanda, committee chair, suggested delaying the start of the program to better promote it beforehand at the Civic Association-sponsored FallFest on Sept. 22 and via a leaflet campaign.

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